Center Stage: ‘Sister Act’ offers fun evening out
Broadway Palm’s 172nd production, the musical version of the 1992 movie “Sister Act” owes a deep genuflection to Director/Choreographer Amy Marie McCleary and the heavenly cast, for making this a hell-of-a toe tapping, whoop de do, rousing, fun evening out.
Music and lyric adaptors Alan Menken and Glen Slater decided to transplant the original film story to the 1970’s, to cash in on the popular soulful R&B disco sound of that era, while keeping to the original 90’s story line.
The broad plot outlines remain the same: having witnessed a murder by her current, married, mobster boyfriend Curtis Jackson (Keith McCoy), a talented yet undiscovered, struggling lounge singer Deloris Van Cartie (Housso Semon) needs to put her career on hold, when she gets placed in witness protection, in a down and almost out convent, by police officer and Deloris’ high school admirer Eddie aka “Sweaty Eddie” (Rendell DeBoise). The convent is a perfect cover, but its strict rules laid out by a no nonsense Mother Superior (Jama Bowen) cramp Deloris’ worldly style. At risk of being expelled from this safe haven after taking two nuns to a local Hot Club, Deloris finds redemption with her musical ability. With her flashy, powerhouse vocals and diva musical style, she single, handedly transforms the convent’s meek and mild choir into a rockin’, flash and dash, boogieing gospel troupe; that attracts notice, bringing in all kinds of new parishioners to the down and almost out congregation.
As you can imagine this is not quite the kind of material that makes for a dazzling musical, but in talented, imaginative, McCleary’s hands, and a top of the line, super talented cast, this disco-era, soul musical became a sure fire hit, that had the opening night Broadway Palm audience cheering from the opening number to the finale curtain.
Semon (making her Broadway Palm debut) is a diva “Dreamgirl,” with a great belting voice, and has what can only be called “star power,” but great as she is by no means must Semon carry this show alone. Credit also must apply to the consistently upbeat, humorous songs, sung by an ensemble with the musical chops to sell and deliver the Motown-channeling music with pizzazz.
Standouts include the aforementioned McCoy and DeBoise, the perfect bad guy verses good guy cop, while Roberts brings the appropriate emotion to the more meditative serious numbers, like “Here Within These Walls” and “Haven’t Got a Prayer,” while Deloris’ newly acquired trio of divinely goofy nuns belt out “It’s Good To Be A Nun.”
Even with all this top notch talent in place, “Sister Act” is heavily dependent on each and every member of this top notch ensemble, both collectively and individually. McCleary has seen to it that the singing, staging, dance, are first rate, comic timing is impeccable, getting the entire cast to groove, making “Sister Act” rather like “Nunsense” on steroids; resulting in a sure fire, toe tapping, hand clapping, hip shaking, audience delight. McCleary has once again proven that she is a master at directing/choreographing shows that appeal to audiences of all ages especially at the Broadway Palm, and all I can add to that is bravo.
You can bet that this show will sell out fast when word of mouth gets out. So be warned phone the box office now (239) 278-4422 and reserve your seat for the best show in town playing till April 2. When you phone remind ’em Marsha sent you.